#Film Review: Netflix’s Roxanne, Roxanne (2018)

Director and writer: Michael Larnell

Rating: 4/5

This film has been on Netflix for a few weeks, but I did not watch it until now, because the environment from the trailer reminded me of Netflix’s First Match (see here).

The film is based on a true story, and it narrates a life of Roxanne Shanté (Chanté Adams), the first female MC on the hip-hop scene, who started the tour with Biz Markee and other band members. Roxanne was also engaged with battle rapping, which originally started in her native Queens and helped her earn some money to help her mother and siblings. Later on, she continued with female battle rapping in ‘Roxanne Wars’. Before she was discovered and started the tours, she was also engaged with shop lifting and other small crime to support her family. In a nutshell, her growing up was everything but easy.

Roxanne was objectified by her mates and other people who worked with her, and all this was happening during puberty, while she was still trying to figure herself out. As misery sometimes follows decent people, she also ended up falling out with her band after they took all money from her. She then went to live with her much older boyfriend and had a son with him, but then she ended up as a victim of horrific domestic abuse. The abuser told her that he only beats her because he loves her, and that she needs to change her behaviour and not reply back to him, stand up for herself, etc.  It took a while to leave him, as the alternative was going back to her mother but eventually she did realise there is no future in an abusive relationship. In the end things worked out and she started her career again, this time while also caring for her son and siblings.

Roxanne’s growing up was everything but easy and this is one of American stories of growing up in the 1980s, and poverty in America. However, it is also a story of the American dream, according to which anyone in America can succeed if everything falls into its place. It is a good story and since it is based in true events, I was pleased to see a happy end. I only think that surrounding and social situation could have been portrayed better. In addition, the film could have been faster and some scenes could have been explored in more depth. In other words, there is an abrupt change from one part of her life to the other, and the one with the abuse is barely portrayed. Nearly until the end of the film I felt as if I am waiting for it to start.  Otherwise, a nice and positive story, certainly worth telling.

Thank you for reading.


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